News and Information

Lawyer of leading high treason suspects withdraws from trial
October 20, 2004


THE Caprivi treason trial in the High Court at Grootfontein appears set to have another postponement forced upon it today.

The trial has been thrown into uncertainty after one of the nine defence lawyers, Henry Chanda, informed Judge Elton Hoff yesterday that he was withdrawing as the legal representative of nine of his 10 clients.

The nine are alleged to include some key figures in a claimed plot to secede the Caprivi Region five years ago.

These include John Samboma, the alleged commander of the secessionist Caprivi Liberation Army, Aggrey Makendano, former Policeman Derick Ndala, Fred Ziezo, Richard Misuha and John Samati.

Chanda, who is a Zambian lawyer, did not tell Judge Hoff in open court why he was withdrawing as legal representative of the nine.

The Namibian has learned, though, that relations between him and his clients had soured over the past month, to the point that - in Samboma's words - the group "fired him" as their defence counsel on Friday last week.

Samboma told The Namibian that the group had decided they no longer wanted Chanda to represent them because he was not carrying out their instructions and had not been consulting with them.

Samboma further protested that Chanda had not conducted any cross-examination of the State's first witness in the trial, Police crime scene expert Detective Warrant Officer Daniel Mouton.

Although not the most active cross-examiner in the defence team, Chanda has made a contribution of his own to the trial.

Over the 23 days that the trial has been in progress, he has on occasion been providing a touch of scholarly colour to the proceedings, mainly due to a habit of using Latin legal phrases to get his point across when addressing the court.

He is still representing one of the 120 men on trial - Moses Kayoka, who was not present at yesterday's proceedings.

Kayoka is in hospital in Windhoek, where he is set to undergo an operation to his urethra today and a prostate examination tomorrow to determine whether he would need another operation, Chanda told the court yesterday.

A fellow member of the defence team, Patrick Kauta, told Judge Hoff that he had had a discussion with the Director of Legal Aid, who had instructed the defence team to represent the 120 accused.

He had to ask for the case to stand down until this morning so that the court could be given a definitive answer on what the way forward would be for the trial, he said.

It is expected that a new defence counsel would have to be appointed for Chanda's nine clients.

None of the eight other defence lawyers would be able to take over the defence of the nine due to possible conflicts of interest between their current clients and the nine.

If a new defence counsel enters the trial, a postponement would most probably be inevitable, since the defence lawyer would have to be given time to study the record of proceedings so far, consult with the accused, and prepare for the continuation of the trial.


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